Tick √. Another boyhood dream checked off the list. What is it that is so cool about hovercraft? Maybe it's because they remind me of my childhood. Maybe it's because they can go on land, sea, ice and mud. Maybe it's because you are technically flying in a hovercraft. Maybe it's because I once saw a video of someone getting run over by one that come out smiling and waving from the other end.
A feature of my generation's youth, you could be forgiven for thinking that nobody made hovercraft anymore. After all, what happened to all those hoverports? I remember going over the English channel on huge hovercraft that could carry over 400 passengers and 60 cars, but now the only passenger hovercraft still operating in Britain runs to the Isle of Wight. Taking the hovercraft was by far the fastest way to get to France, and when the channel tunnel opened it was still quicker to go with the hovercraft. Do you know what killed the hovercraft? The disappearance of Duty Free in Europe. By the end of its life, the cross channel hovercraft relied on Duty Free sales in order to survive, and when duty free was abolished, the hovercraft could not keep up with rising fuel costs and replacement of their ageing fleet.
Griffon Hoverwork in Southampton, one of the first companies to commercially produce hovercraft in the early 70's, is knocking them out left right and center. Producing hovercraft with capacities from 5 to 180 persons, the craft are used as ferries, and for military and life guard operations. They have also made some experimental machines such as a hovering cricket pitch cover at Lords Cricket Ground and hovering crop sprayers.